As we inch ever closer to our second birthday, I thought an update was in order. With my new career hat on I am in danger of treating my children as psychological subjects (and their father too, whom I have diagnosed with conductive aphasia, largely based on the fact he can’t repeat what I’ve said, mere minutes afterwards; of course this could simply be due to NOT LISTENING!!!)
And as such, I have diagnosed them as exceptional children, naturally. This is because they seem already to be developing theory of mind, which doesn’t usually happen till 3 or 4. This is a fancy pants term for knowing that a) there are people other than you and b) they may be thinking and feeling different things, have their own mind, which is in possession of different facts than yours. Evidence? Their demonstrative concern over their twin when they’re hurt or poorly or just throwing a paddy. They’ll shuffle over and proffer some milk or a pat or a cuddly toy. And it also extends to us – Jon will get loving massages when his back’s hurting. I imagine it’s a twin thing; the continuing presence of their other half reinforces the concept of ‘other’, whereas a singleton remains the centre of the universe – in fact, they are their universe – for much longer.
In contrast, THEY ARE STILL NOT WALKING! Jesus Christ on a bendy bus. We are perfectly stable and content walking along holding one hand, but we just won’t let go. Except when I tricked Romilly the other day and she took three steps without noticing my dastardly plan. When she did, she promptly had a small existential crisis and collapsed. I am concentrating jolly hard on not worrying, knowing full well my worry would, by osmosis, infect them. And, after all, there is still time for them to walk before two!
But they are motoring around in other ways. We love stairs. Mummy doesn’t. Because we now insist on going up and down stairs ourselves, which adds another ten minutes to any activity as they get distracted by fluff, SPIDERS (we are still obsessed with spiders, this may be a reflection on my cleaning) and trying to squeeze our heads through the banisters. I have developed a technique of standing behind both of them, trying to cover the whole step with my body in case of plunges to doom, but throwing various tempting objects in front of them to encourage forwards movement.
Romilly is fearless and will gravitate to the slide at Mini Monsters soft play. Charlotte is initially more cautious with everything, using her sister as an advance scouting party, but will then hurl herself up and down everything with gay abandon. She’s still VERY affectionate. We love her cuddles. But Romilly’s heart is melting now too, and our favourite time of the day is when we all snuggle under the Poorly Blanket to have our milk before bedtime. I have one of them either side, their heads tilted into me, thumbs in mouths, and I never want it to end.
They’re (thank God) more kind to each other now than they are violent. We’re having a lot of stroking and hugging, but it can sometimes morph. There was great hilarity at bath time last night when Romilly started rubbing her sister’s sticky out tummy, and they both cackled away, until Charlotte decided to do the same but, bigger as she is, managed to push her sister over. Oh, and her sister is called ‘RoRo’. The first time she did that my heart just oozed through my socks.
Charlotte’s vocabulary is extraordinary. She will repeat pretty much everything I say, but working words now include pate, bamboo, rainbow, SPIDER, label (we love labels and look for them on everything, they’re so silky!), pizza and yoghurt. She’s putting words together, so yesterday I was told the armchair was ‘too big’ for her to climb onto. We can also sign (they learn at nursery). It took me a while to realise that patting their hands and then their chins meant ‘more, please’. How telling that the two signs they remember are the ones which enable them to get more cake.
Romilly’s comprehension takes me by surprise. There is a daily battle over whom Mummy sits next to at mealtimes (sitting in between both would be far too simple). The other day I was next to Charlotte and Miss Bossy Pants (she has developed a bit of a Madam streak of late!) was shouting ‘There! There! Mummy there!’ to get me next to her instead. I said that Charlotte had a poorly ear, so I needed to be with her to help her. Romilly stared at me, and you could almost see her little brain cogs turning. A minute later, she pointed to her own ear going ‘ow’ and smiling and indicating the chair next to her. So along with Theory of Mind, she has also developed the ability to LIE, the minx! Oh, and she can blow bubbles with a wand. And we love going ‘abra’ and waving our arms around wildly to make things magically appear. Usually food.
We’re also anthropomorphising, and making up little stories and games. So being a monkey involves putting our hands in our armpits, going ‘oo, oo, oo’ and shouting ‘babana, babana!’ We love pretending to be pirates and going ‘arrrr!’, playing with our tea sets and going through the rituals of pouring and adding sugar and stirring, and Sleeping Bunnies (oh sweet joy) is our favourite game. In fact, I can get them to be quiet on command by pointing out Toy X is sleeping and then they’ll put their fingers to their lips and say ‘sshhhhh’. We love putting dollies to bed and getting our teddies to cuddle each other. They were good as gold at our Church Farm the other day when they each got given four week old bunnies to stroke. I don’t think they moved or uttered a sound for a good five minutes. Hmm. There’s an idea. They even helped collect eggs from the hen house WITHOUT DROPPING THEM. Dumbfounding.
Daddy and our Giant Brother ‘Tcho’ are just The Best. Joe was up from Uni (Big Nursery) for his birthday last weekend (20! Good God! My son is in his third decade!!!) and they literally screamed when they saw him. It gives me a bit of a break from the Mummy Cult because he is definitely more exciting, and they fight over his lap rather than mine and groom his hair like baby chimps and show off a flurry of tricks. Daddy has been away a lot. I really feel for him; when Joe was the age the girls are now I felt physically sick sometimes when I left for work and he was holding onto my foot. I am so lucky that I get to be here each day and see all the little evolutionary steps, and soak up all the love. He had to go to another Pirate Island to look for treasure and fish (the lucky b*gger was visiting their Seychelles factories) and we missed him lots, although they do sometimes get very confused and think he’s sleeping, so we have to be ‘sshhhh’ whenever we go past the bedroom door. But we’ve got a lovely, uncharacteristically free weekend ahead of us, and that’ll be fab.
Nursery trumps Mummy too. After those early agonising weeks of shaking with sobs and clinging onto my ankles, they now get hyper when they realise it’s a nursery morning and I don’t even get a wave goodbye when I drop them off as it’s just all too interesting. We’ve been so lucky with Marigold. Our gut feel – that it’s a happy, homely place, staffed by people who genuinely love children – was proved correct. It’s so sad we’re having to move! I did seriously consider whether they could commute back from Chester, but that would be silly. We’ve found them a new place on an old converted farm. It has a wood behind it to play in. They do tennis and swimming and French and Spanish. Most importantly though they have chickens. It was the chickens which swung it. Fingers crossed Ash Grove will be a little home from home too.
Right. I must away. We have to make a card for Miss Dawn, the nursery dinner lady, who is retiring. We are VERY sad about this. She is easily Charlotte’s favourite person at nursery; she cottoned on very early that charming her would result in seconds and thirds of dessert. There will be a whole new person to train now in Charlotte’s dietary requirements (sweet, and lots of it). This could spell disaster for the four weeks they have left. Wot, no sticky toffee pudding?!
Oo and very last finally, honest…herewith their CBeebies card for the 20th. The BBC are not showing the birthday slots on iPlayer anymore which means I need to record THE ENTIRE DAY and fastforward through it to see if we’re featured, gadzooks. If anyone spots them, a heads up would be appreciated!!